Chinese education app developer BabyBus produces pre-school educational games and other content, distributing them through mobile app stores and more recently app platforms on smart TVs. Since 2010, when the company started focusing on mobile, it has developed more than 80 apps.

Tang Guangyu, BabyBus founder and CEO, agrees with many Chinese tech entrepreneurs that digital content and apps should be offered for free and revenues will in time be generated through cross-subsidies instead of premium offerings. Qihoo 360 is often cited as a successful example of this model that has monetized the user base gained with a free online security service through advertising, channeling users to third-party games and search marketing.

But unlike Qihoo 360, whose major market is mainland China, BabyBus has been exporting apps since 2011. While many Chinese app developers have focused on overseas markets because they believe Apple’s App Store users are used to paying for apps, Baby Bus believes the free model can work everywhere. But offering apps for free isn’t enough. Mr. Tang added that the quality must be the best as there’s no cost for users to switch to other free apps.

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Tracey Xiang

Tracey Xiang is Beijing, China-based tech writer. Reach her at traceyxiang@gmail.com